I have commented previously about the thrill of watching performers who exude joy in what they do. Some shows lend themselves to such opportunities, and “Plaid Tidings” is that kind of show.
It’s a collection of musical numbers, held together by a silly, but sweet, plot. And the quartet of singing and dancing actors at Cohoes Music Hall can’t wait to demonstrate what they do so brilliantly. Get your ticket.
The musical — a sequel to Stuart Ross’ “Forever Plaid” — concerns the reappearance at the holidays of a fictitious 1950s singing group called The Plaids, four young men killed on their way to a gig in a collision with a busload of girls from a parochial school going (in the other direction) to see the Beatles on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”
WHERE: C-R Productions, Cohoes Music Hall, 58 Remsen St., Cohoes
WHEN: Through Sunday
HOW MUCH: $24-$20
MORE INFO: 237-5858, www.cohoesmusichall.com
The girls were unhurt, but the boys were wiped out, presumably just before their date with musical destiny. Here they have been given another chance to come to Earth to debut a holiday show they never got to perform on TV, a la the famous musical offerings by, say, Perry Como and Andy Williams.
In the first act, the boys, fresh from heaven, try to understand their mission. It’s in this half that we hear, among other numbers, “Stranger in Paradise,” “Sh-Boom,” “Hey There,” and “The Christmas Song,” usually in funny, but spot-on musically, treatments. It’s highlighted by a scene featuring Carl Del Buono, as Smudge, who delivers an affecting monologue capped by a moving offering of “It’s the Most Wonderful Time/Merry Christmas.”
Capturing the ’50s well
The second act is even more amusing than the first: a staging of their TV Christmas special. Frankie (Chris Shore) gets a chance to shine in a funny and hypercritical deconstruction of “Rudolph” and other seasonal songs. The high points, however, may be the paean to Perry Como and the spoof of the “Ed Sullivan Show,” which many of us of a certain age remember fondly. Clever.
Del Buono and Shore are complemented by the equally talented and wacky John Farchione, as Jinx — he of the incessant nosebleed — and Scott Scaffidi, as Sparky, the group’s point man. Their singing — shaped by the production’s first-rate pianist, Audra Cramer (backed by bassist Mike Wickes) — reflects the tight harmonies of the boy groups of the ’50s in a variety of genres: calypso, mambo, ballad, pop, and even (surprisingly) rap.
With aplomb, they knock off their choreography — the work of the show’s superb director, Michael Susko — and pull off the pathos and humor, which is punctuated by a lot of double entendres and audience participation, with excellent timing.
The technical aspects of the show are tight, as they have to be with so many bits and quick segues: kudos to stage manager Richard Vollmer; scenic designers Frank Blackmore III and Nick Mathis; lighting designer Jamison Gresens; and tech director Nick Mathis. (If there was one aspect of the production that misfired on Sunday, it was the muddied and rushed announcer explaining important aspects of the back story. I’m sure that recording could be redone before the next round of performances.)
Down the river at Cap Rep, three spirits are trying to teach Scrooge a life lesson. In Cohoes, these four gregarious ghosts charmingly add life to the season. Excellent outings, both!